While the DS crew were up in Queensland running another meet then backing it up with Track Battle at Norwell, I was down in Adelaide representing at the Shannon’s Nationals in the Australian Swift Racing Series. You may scoff at Suzuki Swifts racing, the cars being mostly seen as sensible daily drivers, but the original series held many years ago saw the likes of Warren Luff graduate through its ranks. The current series has seen many of its competitors go on to compete nationally and internationally in Porsches (Earl Bamber), V8 Supercars (Jesse Dixon) and the V8 Dunlop Series (Morgan Haber) just to name a few. All have used the series as a stepping stone to bigger and better drives.

This year sees the Swift with its biggest field ever including the likes of Luke Fraser, the current South Australian Formula Ford Champion, Ben Grice (son of Bathurst Legend Allan Grice), Allan Jarvis (two time series winner) and Callan Sayers who won the Swift Pre-Season Challenge. With many other competitors looking to make their mark on the series competition was always going to be tough. This year saw me taking my first step into National-level motorsport. Truth be told, my goal for the first round was to not finish last. Not exactly lofty goals, but there was some formidable competition and I wanted to bring the car back in one piece.

My drive almost didn’t come about, partly because I had left my entry fairly late. Although the managers of the Australian Swift Racing Series (ASRS) and Trans Tasman Motorsport had done their best to organise a drive for me, completely out of their control the car never arrived to make the trip down to Adelaide (I received a call on Friday that the car had arrived at the workshop). I had taken the time off work and decided to make the trip down anyway to at least cover the weekend and a little bit of me was hoping a drive would come up. Rushing around on Friday morning I was fitting people into cars for the first practice session and making sure cars were ready to go. About 15 minutes before first practice, I had Liam the category organiser rush over to tell me that the person driving one of the cars had not arrived and that I needed to get my kit on to get out there for the first session.

I managed to get out there for the first session and although I wasn’t happy with the car nor my driving I managed to set a time that was 5th fastest. Ben Grice managed to blitz the field being almost 1.5 seconds faster. He had his car dialed in and was driving right on the limit.

Still not 100% sure if I had a drive for the weekend, I managed to get out for the second session and went a little bit quicker. I had made a small change in the pits. Although when I say I made, the series supplies trained mechanics and managers to setup the car for you. I raised the rear of the car to help with turn in and although it helped a bit I was still struggling to get the car to turn in as it should.

Allan Jarvis getting it up on three wheels.

Unfortunately I missed out on the Final Practice session but when I returned to the track there was some pretty exciting news. The other driver had to pull out and that meant I had a drive for the weekend. What a weight off my shoulders!

Saturday saw an early morning practice and then qualifying. I had managed to cut a bit of time off, but still not up there with the top three. Everyone was pushing hard during qualifying but Ben Grice, Luke Fraser the Adelaide local and Mike Gore managed to set the three fastest times. I found myself back on the third row in 6th place.

All crossed up through the first corner. Photo Credit: Nathan Wong – Shannons Nationals

A few more shots from Friday and Saturday and some of the other classes.

My nerves had been relatively under control up until this point. Then it all started sinking in. My first race, not just on a state level but on a national televised platform at night! Racing at night presents a whole new host of challenges. Headlights and going from light to dark areas on the track throw your distance perception off. Suddenly where you were braking during the day no longer seems like such a great idea. Unfortunately a few laps in I looped it on the first corner. The footage didn’t turn out to crisp but we did manage to capture the almost-roll-over that happened the lap before the spin (it was at least an eventful first race!) I finished second-last but managed to set the second fastest lap time which gave me some confidence coming into the second race on Sunday.

Sunday saw the skies open up and a very wet Mallala. Unfortunately Andrew Coles wasn’t able to make it out for Sunday but we do have a couple of in-car videos and shots from the Swift Racing Series. After falling back to last at the start, I managed to work my way back up to 4th and fighting for 3rd place on the final lap.

photo: Shannons Nationals

Race three saw me starting back in 6th and finishing in the same position. Fantastic racing once again. Luke Fraser walked away with the win to take a clean sweep of the weekend. A pack of 5 of us ended up in a battle for 2nd. Check out the action in the video below or tune in to Speedweek on 5 May at 2:00pm on SBS to check out all the action. Race three saw some of the closest racing you will see anywhere.

Thanks to Andrew Coles for coming to cover the event. Can’t wait to see more coverage from him in South Australia.

Check out my website and facebook page to keep up to date with my racing.

Round Two of the Series will be down at the amazing Phillip Island. Drafting and room for cars to run three-wide, it will provide some fantastic racing. Look forward to it!

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